Title: 20 Best Albums of 2022


Author: Real Cool Vibe

Discovering the titles on my annual best albums lists, is a year long pursuit where I sample lots of new music. What I listen and look for are a combination of aesthetics and context. How does the music sound, how are the musicians informed by what's been done before, and how does their music add to the conversation? Evaluating music based on these criteria are what most excites me.  The albums on this list are my favorite releases from 2022. You can find a playlist on Spotify that features one track from each album.

Artist: Night Shop

Title: Forever Night

Label: Dangerbird Records

Night Shop is the solo project of Justin Sullivan. He is probably best known for playing drums for Kevin Morby and stints with Flat Worms and The Babies. This album features Meg Duffy on guitar (Hand Habits), as well as Jess Williamson, Anna St. Louis, and Jarvis Taveniere from Woods and Purple Mountains.

I basically love everything about this album. The vibe, the excellent songs, and its total lack of pretension. It sounds a little like a record Roy Orbison would make if he was in his 30's in 2022. This is just a timeless rock and roll record and baby there is nothing wrong with that!

Night Shop's "Forever Night' is my album of the year for 2022.

Artist: Tone

Title: So I Can See You

Label: Rhythm Section

 tone - so I can see you - album of the year

TONE, real name Basil Anthony Harewood is a South London based songwriter, musician, and producer. I would describe his music as slow-core-down-tempo-beat-oriented-minimalist-urban-pop-with-a-twist-of-ska. What ever you call it, this record hits all the sweet spots. Great songs and a range of styles. Perfect album for straight-up chillin!

Artist: Porridge Radio

Title: Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky

Label: Secretly Canadian

porridge radio - waterslide, diving board, ladder to the sky - album of the year

Porridge Radio are a British indie rock band who formed in 2015. They are fronted by vocalist, songwriter and lead guitarist Dana Margolin. The other members are keyboardist Georgie Stott, bass guitarist Maddie Ryall and drummer Sam Yardley.

This is a really nice indie-rock record and one that I listened to a lot in 2022. If I had this on vinyl, side A would be my favorite. With that said,"The Rip" on side B is one of my favorite of the record's 13 tracks. 

Artist: Kenny Beats

Title: Louie

Label: XL Recordings

kenny beats - louie - album of the year 

Louie is the solo debut album of American hip hop producer Kenny Beats. Though best known for producing albums for other artists on LOUIE Kenny takes on his own soulful style. The album, a tribute to his ailing father is a personal statement by a skilled studio technician. You like hip-hop soul? Take this album for a spin!

Artist: Moin

Title: Paste

Label: AD93

moin - paste - album of the year

Moin is Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead (Blackest Ever Black) as well as long time collaborator and percussionist Valentina Magaletti. Paste, the band's first release, is a really fresh take on alt-rock where both the music and vocals are sort of hard to describe. While there are traditional arrangements of guitar-bass-and-drums the band's utilization of complex rhythms, distortion, samples, and tight arrangements keep things interesting. The vocal tracks are a mix of spoken-word stories and fragments of conversations. This record reminds me of the album "Palace Intrigue" by Household Gods. If you like this record then that is an album you need to checkout. You're welcome!

Artist: Robert

Title: Orange Is The New Black

Label: Antelope Records

robert - orange is the new black - album of the year 2022

Robert’s full-length debut blends piano and guitar rock samples with spoken-word -rap vocals. Lyrically dense and autobiographical, the album was conceived and crafted during a stint in a UK prison. With guests including Kool Kieth and Slug of Atmosphere this record has all the street-cred it needs. Thankfully, the songs live up to the sum of their parts. The artist's selection of samples perfectly set the stage for each track. Together, the words and music have a cinematic vibe. 

Artist: Spiral Stairs

Title: Medley Attack

Label: Amazing Grace Records

spiral stairs - medley attack - album of the year 

Scott Kannberg is a founding member of Pavement and so you might say, he's alt-rock royalty. Since Pavement fizzled out some 20+ years ago, Kannberg has had numerous projects but none that I have enjoyed as much as Spiral Stairs. Medley Attack is the third Spiral Stairs record in a row that has made my year's best list. In 2017 there was "Doris and The Daggers". In 2020, the band released "We Wanna Be Hypnotized". I recommend all three of these records! At times Spiral Stairs' music reminds me of David Bowie but most of the people I say that to disagree. You'll have to listen and form your own opinion. Below, a note from the artist.

“It’s definitely been the weirdest and the hardest record to make, but I think I like it the best, really. I think they’re my best lyrics — they’re pretty dark, but they’re pretty honest and they tell stories a little more than in the past. And originally it was really going to be a stripped-down swan-song record — I really didn’t want to get a bunch of people involved — but I ended up getting so many of my closest friends and people I admire to help and I couldn’t be prouder of the results. It’s kind of made me want to make more records!” - Scott Kannberg

Artist: Oren Werlin, Johan Berthling, Andreas Ambarchi

Title: Ghosted

Label: Drag City

Oren Werlin, Johan Berthling, Andreas Ambarchi - Ghosted - album of the year

This trio features Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin. Ghosted's four tracks borrow from jazz, world, and experimental musics. The sound is at times eerie, distorted, trance inducing, and hypnotic. With scrawls of guitar and feedback layered on top of highly skilled rhythmic accompaniment. This is a truly gorgeous record of fully enveloping soundscapes. Headphones recommended.

Artist: Afghan Whigs

Title: How Do You Burn?

Label: Royal Cream / BMG

afghan whigs - how do you burn? - album of the year 

The Afghan Whigs are an American rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio. Their brand of soul infused alt-rock has been a staple in my universe since the late 1980's when they were one of Sub Pop Record's first signings from outside of the Pacific NW. While the band's post 90's releases fail to live up to that decade's output, they still bring the heat. Despite lineup changes over the years, vocalist/guitarist Greg Dulli and bassist John Curly still remain from the band's earliest incarnation. Dulli is an accomplished frontman who has had prolific career with the Afghan Whigs and his secondary project the Twilight Singers. Curly has been one of my favorite rock bassists for a few decades now. I saw them in concert in 2022.  Way too loud, as usual!

Artist: Craig Finn

Title: A Legacy of Rentals

Label: Positive Jams / Thirty Tigers

craig finn - a legacy of rentals - album of the year 

Craig Finn is an American singer-songwriter and musician. He is best known as the frontman of the indie rock band The Hold Steady, with whom he has recorded eight studio albums. His solo work is consistent with his previous output and that's a good thing. If you enjoy highly literate rock music - where each song unfolds like a short-story - you might enjoy spending time with "A Legacy of Rentals".

Artist: Mattiel

Title: Georgia Gothic

Label: ATO Records

mattiel - georgia gothic - album of the year 

‘Georgia Gothic’, Mattiel’s third full-length album, is another example of this Atlanta based band's consistently high-quality output. Except for this album's opening track, I like this album as much as anything the band has done to date. If you like a little pop with your indie-rock, Mattiel's radio friendly songs are the kind that stick in your head.

Artist: Yahritza Y Su Esencia

Title: Obsessed

Label: Lumbre Musica / Columbia

yahritza y su ssencia - obsessed - album of the year

Yahritza Y Su Esencia are a sibling trio from Yakima, Washington. They are fronted by singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitarist Yahritza Martinez, who is backed by her older siblings on acoustic bass and 12-string guitar. Their music weds Mexican regional music, drawn from the ranchera and corridos traditions, to acoustic folk-pop. That teenagers are capable of this level of talent and musicianship is commendable.

Artist: Oneida

Title: Success

Label: Joyful Noice Recordings

oneida - success - album of the year 

Oneida is a five-member genre-defying experimental rock band from Brooklyn, New York. 'Success' marks the bands return to a more guitar-centric sound. This record sounds like New York in the best way possible. The perfect combination of feedback, dissonance, and cacophony. 

Artist: Panda Bear & Sonic Boom

Title: Reset

Label: Domino Recording Co.

panda bear & sonic boom - reset - album of the year 

Reset is an album by Panda Bear (Animal Collective) and Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3). It marks the duo's first collaborative album although each artist has appeared on the other's records in the past. Much of the album is built on a bedrock of sampled loops taken from 1950s and 1960s pop songs. This gives the album a vintage sheen that lands someplace between The Beach Boys and Galaxie 500.

Artist: Courting

Title: Guitar Music

Label: Play It Again Sam Recordings

courting - guitar music - best albums of the year

Guitar Music is the debut studio album from British band Courting.

Artist: Anteloper

Title: Pink Dolphins

Label: International Anthem Recording Co.

anteloper - pink dolphins - best albums of the year 

Anteloper is a duo consisting of Jaimie Branch on trumpet & synths plus Jason Nazary on drums & electronics. Pink Dolphins was produced by Jeff Parker (The New Breed, Tortoise, Chicago Underground), who also plays guitar on some tracks. Constructed from hours of recorded improvisations, the album is a spirited example of free jazz with brass, synths, and percussion producing an enveloping sonic palette. 

Artist: Caroline

Title: Caroline

Label: Rough Trade Records

caroline - caroline - best albums of the year

Born in 2017 as a three-piece post-punk band Caroline has since added five additional members and seen their sound shift into something more expansive. 

Artist: Delicate Steve

Title: After Hours

Label: ANTI-

 delicate steve - after hours - best albums of the year 2022

Steve Marion, aka Delicate Steve, is one of my favorite contemporary guitarists. His talent for writing gorgeous melodies lends itself to his equally beautiful instrumental soundscapes. This LP — written and recorded on a 1966 Fender Stratocaster — features psychedelic loops and guitar solos accentuated by Pakistani bassist Shahzad Ismaily’s grooves and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco’s beats. 

Artist: John Dwyer

Title: Gong Splat

Label: Castle Face Records

john dwyer - gong splat - best albums of the year

Punk jazz.

Ryan Sawyer: drums 

Greg Coates: upright bass 

Wilder Zoby: synth & mellotron 

Andres Renteria: conga, bongos & hand percussion 

John Dwyer: guitar, synths, pan flute, cuica, percussion, space drum & effects

Artist: Widowspeak

Title: The Jacket

Label: Captured Tracks

widowspeak - the jacket - albums of the year 2022

Widowspeak is an American indie rock band from Brooklyn, New York. Their music is a dreamy blend of pop that sounds like Fleetwood Mac meets alt-rock. The band consists of guitarist and vocalist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas.

Hope you find some music to love! - Howard

You can find me on Spotify at HipHopPunkRock

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Title: Parquet Courts Videos - Variety Playhouse - 03.02.22


Author: Real Cool Vibe

After two-years with limited opportunities to see live music, I am excited to be holding tickets to so many cool shows. On March 2, 2022 I attended the Parquet Courts show at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse. As far as concerts go, the year has gotten off to a good start!

The Parquet Courts are one of my favorite live bands and a band I do not miss when they come to town. After playing at Terminal West (625 capacity) the last few times they played in Atlanta the band stepped up in size to the Variety Playhouse (1000 capacity) for their 2022 tour. It felt like this show was sold out so the larger venue proved to be a good choice. For my own selfish reasons, I hope they stick to theaters for the foreseeable future. I prefer to see live music in an intimate setting. As part of my continuing iPhone 5 movie series I bring you some choice clips from the show.

This video features the band Parquet Courts playing a feedback drenched version of "Stoned And Starving" from the album Light up Gold (2013).

This video features the Parquet Courts playing Free Bird II at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta on March 2, 2022.

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Title: 6 Great Albums That I Kept A Secret (Until Now)


Author: Real Cool Vibe

While I love turning people on to music, it turns out there are some bands and records that are mine and mine alone. Some bands and artists I have kept to myself. Some bands that my friends don't know about and even my "music friends" could not find on a map.

As I started thinking about bands that fell into this category it made me realize that it was time to open the floodgates. The fact is, these albums are too good not to share.

The albums on this list have a few things in common; 1) each is an album I truly love, and 2) to make things more interesting, each artist is from a different country.

01. Coconot - Cosa Astral (BCore Records, 2008)

Coconot were a 3-piece band from Barcelona, Spain. They put out two records before disbanding in 2008. While the band did not garner the attention it deserved, one member - Pablo Díaz-Reixa subsequently went on to international fame as a solo artist called El Guincho and for his work as a producer.

Díaz-Reixa grew up in the Canary Islands listening to his dad’s Latin and Krautrock records. He learned music theory from his opera singer grandmother. He studied classical percussion at music school and taught himself guitar in his free time. This melting pot of cultures and influences are all evident in Coconot's music. 

Cosa Astral's Tropicália meets latin-carnival-music vibe is an adventurous and highly creative endeavor that beguiles the band's age.

Cosa Astral - Cosa Astral


02. Johnny Hawaii - Southern Lights (Hands In The Dark, 2013)

There is not a lot of information available about Johnny Hawaii so I can't tell you much. I know the artist is from Marseille, France and his real name is Olivier Scalia. His Instagram bio simply states..... "Recording imaginary waves since 2008". In my opinion this soulful, percussive, and dreamy album of downtempo electronic music is the perfect soundtrack for watching the sun set over your favorite beach.

Johnny Hawaii - Southern Lights


03. Pekos / Yoro Diallo - Pekos / Yoro Diallo (Yaala Yaala, 2007)

When it comes to "outsider music", the origin story behind an artist or album is typically interesting. How for instance does music recorded live to a battery powered boombox in a market in Kolondieba, Mali in the 1990's get released in the U.S. by a subsidiary of American indie label Drag City Records in 2007?

Evidently, the story goes like this.... "One afternoon while meandering through Bougouni's sole market, a line of tar paper and lean-to shanties, I heard what initially sounded like an insane man giving birth. Listening more closely, I heard an insistent and funky beat percolating forth from the shadows of my main cassette man Abdoulaye's stall, interspersed with the utterances of the same man who sounded so insane; now he sounded as if he was gargling glass. I wandered into Abdoulaye's place and pointed at the boombox. He immediately started laughing. The tape was recorded in Kolondieba, a village not too far from Bougouni. The performers, Pekos and Yoro Diallo, were quite popular in the region. They were playing electrified Ngonis, a four to five foot length of wood jammed into a hollowed out gourd with strings connected from a bridge at the base of the instrument to the end of the neck. Only the fancier Ngonis have tuning pegs; most are tuned by pushing the strings with the thumbs. To generate their sound, the musicians put old mics inside of the gourds of their Ngonis, run it to a preamp, and then to a horn speaker. As with just about all of the music I listened to in Mali, I have no idea what they're singing about but I do know they're reciting litanies of names prompted usually by the laying of small bills or coins at their feet. As a sign of thanks, they sing about how great Coulibaly is, Sidibe is, what a strong man Traore is, etc."

The appeal of this record is its rawness and the musicians' impassioned performance. The duo play off of each other as if they are having a personal conversation. In this instance, not knowing the language does not diminish the thrill of listening to what they are saying.

Pekos / Yoro Diallo - Pekos / Yoro Diallo


04. John Wizards - John Wizards (Planet Mu Records, 2012)

I have never embraced the term "World Music". Unless I missed something, and all of the kids are listening to some cool new band from Jupiter, all of the music available on planet earth falls into the World Music category. If the moniker is so generic, how effective can it be when used to classify a band's origin or sound? With that said, Cape Town, South African band John Wizards' Wikipedia page describes their music as a mix of R&B, soukous, Afropop, reggae, South African house, Shanagan electro, and dub. Maybe in this case it might just be easier to refer to their sound as World Music.

To my ear, the band's sound is rooted in Afropop. They also sound like carnival music fused with reggae and dub or perhaps Lady Blacksmith Mambazo on acid doing Paul Simon and Bee Gees covers.

John Wizards - John Wizards


05. Radio Zumbido - Los Últimos Días del AM (Palm Pictures, 2002)

In 1999, after years of touring with Guatemala City, Guatemala rock band Bohemia Suburbana, Juancarlos Barrios started Radio Zumbido - a band that fuses electronic beats, latin rhythms, and a wide variety of sampled material to create a truly unique fusion of sounds.

On Los Últimos Días del AM, Barrios layers dub bass lines, horns, electronic loops, beats, and samples taken from Guatemalan shortwave radio programs. Samples consisting of merengue and tex-mex music, evangelist preachers, and political propaganda are used to create a soundtrack that reflects on Guatemala's social and political life. 

Radio Zumbido - Los Últimos Días Del AM


06. Yonatan Gat - Director (Joyful Noise Recordings, 2015)


Yonatan Gat is a guitarist, producer and experimental composer from Tel Aviv, Israel. He is currently based in New York City. On Director, his band consists of Gat on guitar, Gal Lazer on drums, and Sergio Sayeg on bass.

Gat became known as one of the world's top performers as founder and guitarist of Monotonix, once hailed by SPIN magazine as "the most exciting live band in rock’n’roll”. As a solo artist, his guitar style falls somewhere between jazz fusion and rock but there are influences from many musical cultures woven into his music.

As much as I enjoy this album's recorded material, it is the videos of them playing these songs live that is even more impressive. Most of the performances were conducted in-the-round where the band plays surrounded on all sides by their audience. Sometimes the musicians are just inches away from the crowd.

Yonatan Gat - Director


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Title: 25 Best Albums of 2021 by HipHopPunkRock


Author: Real Cool Vibe

This article details HipHopPunkRock's twenty-five best albums of 2021. This year's list includes a diverse selection of music and includes a short description of each release, the album's artwork, and links so you can listen to the music online. I hope you find something to love.
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Title: iPhone 5 Movies: Delicate Steve Plays Ramones


Author: Real Cool Vibe

I still have an iPhone 5. Yeah, you heard me correctly. I said FIVE!! It does not function very well these days. Some apps have stopped working, download speeds are super-slow, and the camera is seriously outdated. An upgrade is most definitely on the horizon. Before that can happen I decided to salvage my pics and videos. When this phone goes to phone heaven I am going to make sure I have my memories locked and loaded.

My phone has lots of photos and videos of bands I have seen over the last 6-years. Because it's an iPhone 5 the quality is not very good. That is especially the case in low light situations. Even still, I have some clips that are worth sharing. I thought it would be cool to turn them into blog posts.

The first post in the "iPhone 5 Video Series" is the guitarist Delicate Steve at The Earl in Atlanta Georgia. The date of the show is March 12, 2017.

At the end of this show the band played a few covers. The first was Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and the next was Ramones' "Judy Is A Punk". If memory serves the next song was The Who's "My Generation". Just as it started my phone battery called it quits for the evening:-) 

Delicate Steve Playing Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti"

Delicate Steve Playing Ramones' "Judy Is A Punk"
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